Sweet Potato, Leek, and Ham Soup

Prechopped sweet potato is now available in most grocery stores. If you’re unable to find it, peel and cube two small sweet potatoes to measure about 3 cups.
Olive oil-flavored cooking spray
1  cup  diced cooked ham (such as Cumberland Gap)
1 1/2  cups  sliced leek (about 1 large)
2  tablespoons  water (optional)
3  cups  refrigerated cubed peeled sweet potato (such as Glory)
1  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2  cups  water
1  (5-ounce) can evaporated fat-free milk
1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
Thinly sliced leek (optional)
Thinly sliced green onions (optional)
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add ham; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Remove ham from pan; set aside.  Add leek to pan; coat with cooking spray. Cook leek, covered, 5 minutes or until very tender, stirring occasionally. Add 2 tablespoons water to pan, if needed, to prevent burning.  Add sweet potato and next 4 ingredients, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until sweet potato is very tender. 
Place half of potato mixture in a blender or food processor. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Process until smooth. Pour puree into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining mixture. Return pureed mixture to pan. Stir in 3/4 cup reserved ham. Ladle soup into bowls; top servings evenly with 1/4 cup reserved ham. Garnish with sliced leek and onions, if desired.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 1/4 cups)

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